Aug 07 2008

Give up. Parents are definitely NOT cool.

Published by at 10:22 am under amy's head,kids

Or, Why Parents Suddenly Become UnCool When Their Kid Hits Teenagedom

This has been rattling around in my head for a week or so. Let’s see if I can get it out in some sort of concise manner.

When you’re a teenager, well probably long before that, but let’s go with this for now shall we? Jeez. quit interupting and just let me get this out already!

Ahem.

When you’re a teenager, you are very aware of what others are thinking, what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, what they’re eating, what they like, what they don’t like, what they might think of you, whether you’re cool, whether you’re not cool, etc.

So you start to really pay attention to your own behavior, clothes, habits, etc. You monitor everything you do so as not to be deemed uncool. Thus is your entry into the world of adulthood, constantly monitoring, choosing, judging both yourself and others, on whether they or you are “cool”. This goes on pretty much forever, in what we call “society.”

So you are going along, constantly monitoring your own social acceptance levels all the way into adulthood, then you find that special someone. You and the special someone waggle your eyes at each other. SEXY! Suddenly, you get all busy and then BAM! 9 months later you are PARENTS. Sure, you may have planned this all out. But even if you didn’t, you had 9 months to mentally prepare yourself for this thing called parenthood. I can totally do this, you think. I’m hip! I’m one cool chick/dude! I’ll be the awesomest mom/dad out there! Bring it! Wooo! Babies!

So then you have this tiny little mewling infant who demands constant attention, needs to be fed constantly, poops on you, barfs on you, won’t let you sleep, and has you completely wrapped around your little finger.

The constant demands on your attention, coupled with the lack of sleep, have completely stolen away any sense of cool you may have had. Cool is suddenly, not nearly as high a priority as it once was. Managing to brush your teeth before noon? If you can manage it, AND a baby wipe bath (because let’s face it, not showering has made that baby spew that went down your shirt really start to smell rank) is just about the highlight of your day.

So the cool – totally gone. But even at this stage, you still know what cool IS. You are still TOTALLY cool! You are just… caught at a bad time, right? It’s not like you would GO OUT INTO THE WORLD like this!! OK, yes, there was that one time where you HAD to run to the store and didn’t notice that you were wearing sweats, flip flops and a t-shirt that says, “I PUT OUT!” with a happy fire extinguisher on it* and spit-up all down the back, but that was EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES! You were out of DIAPERS! You still totally know what cool was, and once you could get a decent 6 hours of sleep (ALL IN A ROW!) you might be able to function at a normal level of cool! Really! Someone should just put, “There are extenuating circumstances for this outfit!” on a t-shirt and all would be well. The world will excuse you, right? And if not, well fuck them, you have a new baby.

* James is actually wearing this shirt right now, minus the baby spew.

And time goes by! And you do get those six hours all lined up in a row (which totally helps one to feel like an actual human being again, forget about the cool!) and you can start to function normally again and even manage to give yourself a good once over before leaving the house to make sure there’s no snot, vomit, spit up or poop anywhere in sight! This is a positive step!

And it’s true that once you get over that initial ‘new baby’ hump, you do largely return to your cool, hip self, (albeit with a new infant, you emerge like a bear blinking in the sun to a strange and totally new and beautiful world, but we’re focusing on the cool thing in this post, so I won’t go into that). But that is where you are WRONG. You have lost your cool. It’s subtle, but it’s THERE.

You are walking down the store aisles keeping a constant stream of one sided conversation up with your infant kid because of course you know that hearing YOU talk is how SHE learns to talk and yes, you did feel silly in the beginning but now you don’t even notice the people looking at you strangely as you ask Jocelina-Beena if you should get daddy some chocolate syrup or not. “Yes! We should,” you say, totally oblivious to HOW UNCOOL YOU ARE AT THIS MOMENT, “You’re so right cutie patootie! Let’s get daddy some chocolate ice cream too! Ooh, and let’s not forget Mommy’s bottle of wine, oh no!” You continue this banter as the only response you get from baby is the occasional spit bubble.

And it continues as baby gets bigger. You do the weirdest, UNCOOLEST stuff ever. Everyone knows that it is totally uncool to be super enthusiastic about ANYTHING. Cool is nothing but the epitome of blase. Cool is never, “AWESOME!” Cool is always laid back, “It’s all good.” This however, dosn’t fly with the toddler set.

“WOWEE! LOOK AT THE TRAIN!”
“YOU’RE RIGHT, YOU CAN DO IT ALL BY YOURSELF!”
“AN AIRPLANE! I MAY FALL OVER FROM THE SHEER EXCITEMENT OF IT ALL!”
“LOOK AT THAT! YOU PEED IN THE POTTY!”
“DID YOU DRAW THIS FOR ME??!! PERFECTION! A TRIUMPH! BEST SCRIBBLE EVER! I GIVE IT FIVE STARS!!”

Even as they get older, and grow out of the need for this over exuberance, it’s hard for you to let it go. I mean, after all these years, you’re allowed to show excitement about things that really ARE cool and exciting to you! What fun! You’re not about to give that up! Trains ARE exciting dammit! And that drawing baby made you make for her of a mermaid? It’s awesome! There’s nothing wrong with being proud of that! Screw cool! And you are finally allowed to take pride and show some enthusiasm in your hobbies and accomplishments! You know how long it’s been since that was allowed? Since YOU were a kid! It’s been a long time, so why not relish it?

“LOOK AT THIS BUNNY I MADE! ISN’T IT THE CUTEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN IN YOUR LIFE??!”

And that’s it. It’s all downhill from there. You find yourself singing along to all the Little People, Laurie Berkner, and They Might Be Giants (kid) songs, even figuring out a counter-point melody to sing against “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad” –even LOOKING FORWARD to the “Teddy Bear Picnic” song. You start to do funny voices for all the different characters in the stories you read to your child, and you even kind of enjoy settling in for a nice game of “Barbie goes to the ball… in this MONSTER TRUCK!!” (yes, this is the kind of thing you do when you have both son and daughter). You let your daughter put piggy tails all over your head. You let your son jump on you even if it means you might get a knee to the nads. You become THAT PARENT who calmly, even serenely continues their shopping even though they have a child screaming bloody murder in the shopping cart.

Let’s face it. Even if you are OUTWARDLY cool… your kid is closer to you then the rest of the world. Your kid SEES all this uncoolness. And what’s more, when they are little, they need it. They CRAVE it. You really are not being a very good parent if you tell your kid that no, you won’t draw her a mermaid because it just wouldn’t be COOL, right? They need it, and you give it, but it will bite you in the ass later, because they ABSORB IT ALL IN ALL IT’S UNCOOL GOOEYNESS!

And then your kids grow up.

And they LEARN about what it is to be cool.

And they remember their childhood and all those uncool things you did. Admit it. You did a LOT of uncool things. Those imitations of Tom Cruise sliding across the wood floor singing into a hairbrush? You thought it was cool, and at the time, it made you the best daddy in the world.

But now they know. They’re on to you. You are SO not cool.

And you have to admit… they’ve got a point. But it doesn’t matter at this point, because you’ve learned that coolness just isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s way cooler to be uncool, baby!

So go ahead. Be uncool. OWN it baby! You NEED to be uncool! Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when your 14 year old rolls her eyes and asks you to drop her off a block away from the school so she won’t be seen with you. She’s totally right. She’s got years of memories of the total uncoolness that is you.

But don’t worry. With a bit of luck, after an appropriate amount of time, she’ll find someone special and they’ll start waggling their eyes at each other, and before she knows it, she’ll have lost her cool to the world of baby spew.

And you’ll get to spoil her subsequent children tell them they can have ANYTHING they want, feed them stuff that’s bad for them and then send them back to her uncool ass just before they crash from the sugar high!

So it all comes out OK in the end!

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